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Spreading their wings
Moran honors Great Bend couple as Angels in Adoption
new deh angels in adoption pic web
Congressman Jerry Moran meets with Dr. John and Lori Simmons of Great Bend in his Washington, D.C., office Tuesday. The couple is in Washington to be honored for their work at promoting adoption. - photo by COURTESY PHOTO

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A Great Bend couple is in the nation’s Capitol this week, being honored for opening their home to orphans.

Congressman Jerry Moran recently nominated Dr. John and Lori Simmons to receive the 2010 "Angels in Adoption" award for their advocacy for adoption and compassion for orphans in Ethiopia. The Angels in Adoption program highlights the good work of those who strive to improve the lives of children through adoption and foster care.

"John and Lori’s efforts to care for orphans in Ethiopia prove that one family can make a lasting difference in the lives of others," said Moran. "John and Lori adopted two young girls from Ethiopia, and have worked tirelessly to care for many more Ethiopian orphans and involve the Great Bend community in that mission. Their efforts have galvanized their community around a common goal and have shown that when individuals work together, there is no limit to what they can accomplish. The Simmons’ compassion will change the lives of hundreds of orphaned children forever."

In 2008, John and Lori Simmons traveled to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to adopt their daughters, Faven and Diborah. But their compassion reached beyond these two children, to hundreds of orphans in Ethiopia. Before their trip, the Simmons spearheaded a fundraising effort to feed and clothe children at two orphanages in Addis Ababa. They surpassed their goal of raising $10,000 for the orphanages and then raised another $10,000 to provide Ethiopian orphans the opportunity to study at Barton Community College (BCC) in Great Bend, where John teaches. One young man the Simmons helped, Kenean, is currently attending BCC and is scheduled to graduate this fall. After graduation, he plans to attend Wichita State University, where another Great Bend family will sponsor his education.

John and Lori not only impacted the lives of Faven, Diborah and Kenean, but also helped bring together the community of Great Bend to care for the needs of orphans living half a world away, Moran said. "Through adoption and their ongoing work with Ethiopian orphans, John and Lori hope to give children not only a family, but a future."

The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, of which Moran is a member, will honor the Simmons during a ceremony in Washington, D.C., this week.

According to the CCAI’s website, the program provides members of Congress the opportunity to honor an individual, couple, or organization from their district that have made a contribution on behalf of children in need of homes. Honorees hail from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico and represent the wide spectrum of individuals involved in the adoption and foster care process.

Since the program’s inception in 1999, over 1,600 Angels have received this honor, the website notes. CCAI also honors a select number of National Angels in Adoption. As the name implies, these are individuals whose contributions in the fields of adoption or foster care have had a national impact. Past recipients of this award include Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy, First Lady Laura Bush, Bruce Willis, Al Roker, Muhammad Ali, Patti LaBelle, Jane Seymour, Henry Winkler, and CBS Studios.

The Angels in Adoption travel to Washington D.C. to participate in three days of events all designed to train them in using their personal experience to affect change on behalf of children in need of homes and to celebrate their hard work and dedication to the issue.

Also from Kansas, Lon and Kathy of Ostrom were honored this year. They were nominated by Rep. Lynn Jenkins.